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Top GMB Ranking Factors: 5 Powerful Ways To Climb The SERPs (+Why Local Matters)

January 27, 2023

image of google my business logo

Top GMB Ranking Factors

Ranking your local GMB listing and climbing to the top of the SERPs is comparable to a Japanese puzzle box.

You have to follow the correct sequence to open the box.

But with constant changes to Google's algorithms and core updates, how do you get your GMB to the top of the SERPs?

Luckily, Google offers a few clues on how to dominate the local search engines and secure a spot in the Map Pack.

“Google Maps Pack grabs as much as 44% of the total clicks on search engine results pages". (Neil Patel)

That’s some valuable online real estate.

Digital property that can be yours by using these powerful ranking factors.

Why Local Search Matters?

GMB signals rose 36% in perceived importance in 2021, so you’d better believe your listing counts.

Adopt these five top ranking factors to get your local GMB listing in the Google Map Pack.

But first we gathered the stats that show why having a dominant presence on local search matters more than ever.

1. GMB Set-Up:

Simple and effective but often neglected or done incorrectly.

Why It's Worth It?

56% of actions on GMB listings are website visits.

Google My Business saw an increase of 61% from January to June 2020.

Complete and accurate GMB listings "get 7x more clicks and 70% more location visits than listings missing information". 

Pretty impressive stats and a clear message that your GMB is worth setting up the right way.

Your listing should include:

Primary Category:
  • Your main keyword should be your primary category

    (ensures you show up in relevant searches)

  • Choose applicable sub-categories specific to your services

  • You can choose up to 10 but aim for the best 1-5 (there are nearly 4000 to choose from)

  • Pro Tip: Use GMB Crush (free chrome extension) to see what categories your competition has listed.

Service Areas:

Google gives priority to completed listings and rewards those that satisfy search intent.

You need to fill out the description fields for every service (use all 750 characters).

Add in keywords, brand name, and location(s) specific to your business to fully optimize your listing.

Verify & Claim Your Listing:

Verifying your GMB is crucial if you want potential customers to find you in Google Maps.

It's possible to have your GMB listing in the maps without verification.

But that's never a guarantee (especially in a competitive market).

Verifying and claiming your business allows you to:

  • Respond directly to customers

  • Add updates

  • Keep information current

Bright Local created a SlideShare deck outlining how to verify and confirm your listing.

Why You Need To Verify & Claim Your GMB Listing:

  • Increase Consumer Trust & Brand Awareness
  • Show Up In Google Maps
  • Boost Credibility
  • Rank Higher In The SERPs

Pro Tip: Spend the extra cash and get your business Google Guaranteed.

This will increase consumer trust and build credibility.

Create A Q&A Section: 

**Google has temporarily paused the Q&A section in response to COVID-19**

A Q&A section is a chance to leverage Google and fully optimize the platform.

It's also an excellent opportunity to connect with potential customers. And gives you a chance to share helpful information.

Take full advantage of your Q&A section by answering every question as soon as possible. 

91% of questions from potential customers are left answered.

Keep your answers clear and concise to ensure the best user experience.

Use Google’s call to action buttons (CTAs) to drive potential customers to your website.

Be proactive and ask/answer questions on your local listing (seeding your GMB).

Seeding helps increase relevancy and can impact how often you show up in local searches.

What Are The Benefits Of A Q&A Section?

  • Builds trust with potential customers.

  • Allows you to control the narrative.

  • Increases engagement.

  • Elevates your business from the competition.

  • Sends a signal to Google algorithms.

  • Pro Tip: Use keywords in your questions and answers.

    (this is a chance to appear more often in the SERPs)

  • Pro Tip: Use Google’s call to action buttons (CTAs) to drive potential customers to your website.

2. Brand Recognition:

Post regular updates including keywords, high quality, local and relevant content.

Include quality photos (posts with photos receive 35% more clicks to their websites).

Keep your text short and concise.

Consider adding videos and 'action shots' of your employees.

This will help to build trust and a sense of community through your GMB listing. 

Use Google’s call to action buttons (CTAs) to drive potential customers to your website.

Pro Tip: The more you post the higher you’ll rank.

Get consistent quality and relevant reviews.

image of google reviews logo

Why You Need Reviews:

Reviews provide social proof and transparency.

Crucial factors for building your brand.

89% of consumers read reviews before making a purchase.

Regular reviews rank higher than a listing that gets sporadic reviews.

Respond to every review (even the ones that aren't so great).

And leverage this free advertising platform to its full potential.

Pro Tip: Create a Google Review link to make it easier for your customers to leave reviews.

3. Links & Signals:

Links send a powerful message of relevancy and local content to Google.

Up the ante with these top GMB ranking factors:

  • Add links to your website (including location pages)
  • Add your contact page URL to the appointment link

( 60% of smartphone users have contacted businesses directly through the click to call option).

Link to your social pages like Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, etc.

Get links from online directories and business associations like Yelp, Chamber of Commerce, and Bing

Create a free Google website to power up your GMB where you can add additional links.

Get backlinks from high authority sites.

“A site’s overall link authority (as measured by Ahrefs Domain Rating) strongly correlates with higher search engine rankings.” (Backlinko)

Pro Tip: Links to high authority, local or topical relevant sites are crucial ranking factors.

4. Relevance:

This is what consumers are searching for and how they’ll find you.

NAP (name-address-phone number), business hours, details, etc. 

Take your game up a notch by including: 

  • 100% unique content to your NAP listings
  • An email address 
  • Website URL

You also need to include:

  • Citations that are accurate and consistent (inconsistency in your NAP will negatively impact your ranking).

  • Keywords and target words in your GMB description.
  • Industry-related keywords, location, and keyword modifiers.

Pro Tip: Incorporate specific and relevant details in your GMB description

5. Distance:

The proximity of your site to a consumer search is beyond your control.

You can't change the location of your business.

But there are a few ways improve your chances of being found.

picture of directions on google maps

What You Can Do:

  • Add location-based keywords to your GMB description.
  • Make sure your address is correct, complete and up to date.
  • Link your GMB to Google Maps.
  • Embed a map link, and directions (86% of people look up the location of a business on Google Maps)

More than 60% of Google searches come from mobile devices. 

The more location information you include in your listing the better your chance of hitting that Map Pack.

Bonus Tip: Create A GPS Listing:

A business citation specific to the maps.

Tools like allow you to include your business name and contact information.

Link to your main website and embed directions.

Navigation and driving direction requests send behavioral signals.

A clear sign to Google that people want to visit your business.

Leveraging Google is the basis of our rank and rent business model. It's a way to generate free traffic that gets leads for local business owners.

You can use these tips to build and rank websites. If you're curious about lead generation, you should check out this program for more information.

“It (direction requests) is the strongest digital signal that your business is the most relevant to the users’ specific inquiry.” (GMBCrush)


Google gets 5.6 billion searches per day. 

Establish local signals and spread out your online proximity.

Don't forget to pay attention to your organic listing and continue to add quality content.

Simple yet authoritative ways to launch your rankings.

We don't know the exact ins and outs of Google's algorithms. 

But if you take advantage of Google's clues.

Invest the time and focus on these top GMB ranking factors.

You can leverage Google and dominate the SERPs.

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Ippei Kanehara

$52K per month providing lead generation services to small businesses is for digital hustlers, industry leaders and online business owners.

His #1 online business recommendation in 2024, is to build your own lead generation business.

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